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Student Blog Post: The significance of feminism outside Western society and why we still need feminism

This is the second blog post in a series of blogs written by Year 12 IBDP students, participating in the Global Issues ECA. Linking in with International Women's Day Dover Court celebrates Women's month and in this blog post Maleeha looks he significance of feminism outside Western society.

Global issue: The significance of feminism outside Western society and why we still need feminism.

In the 21st century, we are well aware of feminism, women’s rights, and the importance of women, and why we should celebrate our women... The list in non-exhaustive and by now it feels like we have all had enough of the word- “FEMINISM!”

Several people argue that in the 21st Century we perhaps do not need feminism anymore. Women are working, women are being educated, women are choosing to leave their designated, stereotypical role as a wife and home-maker and choosing to live independently, both emotionally and financially. Women have certainly made their mark on the world, there is no argument there. We have struggled, shed many tears, lost many souls, finally resulting in a slightly more equal opportunistic world.

However, the story does not end there.

The main reason why feminism is still imperative is mostly because the stories that you hear about empowered women making something out of nothing, are stories that originate from the West. Globalisation has grasped the world, with its capitalist paws and encaged the world in hopes of uniting humanity.

Unity. Humanity. Words we hear too often, but rarely see applied. Western influence has certainly paved the way for an easier life for some future female generations, nonetheless, the story is entirely different in the nations outside the Western influence. Even in the center of the Western world: the USA, about 71.75 million (2021) women out of 166.7 million are working. This number might not seem big to some, however, to others, that number is astronomical.

Perspectives matter. Especially in such a delicate topic. In a densely populated country like India, less than 20% of the 604.7 million women are working. If seen from the Western perspective, this number might seem low; nevertheless, if seen from the Indian/Asian perspective, that number might give a sense of pride to many. This is because they know that women generally do not work in India, they know that women do not have the same opportunities that they might have elsewhere.

Some people have a simple solution for this: just go abroad. But it is not that easy. Freedom is expensive. And the women stuck in the patriarchal system that still exists in many countries know that all too well.

Women’s equality might be visible in richer countries like the US, the UK, and Australia and several countries in Europe. These are places where women have to struggle, but they get an opportunity out of the struggle.

People monitor its growth in the West, but they ignore it in the rest of the world. Slowly and steadily there are recognisable women in the feministically quiet parts of the world like the Africa and Asia.

Being a part of Asian culture, specifically Indian culture, I can vouch that there is a superfluous of people that need to be exposed to the idea of feminism and the independant woman. The idea might not seem new, but in so many parts of the world it is still considered outrageous. I, myself, have been an eyewitness to a considerable number of, not only villages, but cities, where modernisation is apparent in the topography of the location, but not in the mindset of people.

In places like India, China, Nigeria, Uganda, Afghanistan and so on, women simply do not have the same opportunities, no matter how much work they put in. They can shed sweat and blood and tears and fight to death, but will generally end up stuck inside four walls.

And that is why we still see promote feminism. That is why we still talk about it. That is why we still want people to understand its importance.

Women and Non-Western Literature

Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, J.K Rowling, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, and so many more. Women have inspired hundreds and thousands of literary pieces that to this day are read and critically acclaimed to be the best works of literature. Nevertheless, continuing on from the point above, these women are always celebrated in today’s society. They are always recognised as the quiet rebellious feminists of the old era. However, there are several writers in the past and the present that are not as critically acclaimed as they perhaps should be.

These are the hidden gems of the World; shining under the black coal of society that hides them away from the rest of the World. Some of these are:

Han Kang, a Korean author, famous for her brutally honest book about death and political events like: Human Acts. She was recognized in Korean literature and later when her works were translated into English, she began to be recognized internationally as well.

Shobha De, an Indian author and columnist, she began a gossip magazine, but showed her true potential when publishing a series of books about real life problems. One of her famous ones: Socialite Evenings, journeys the difficulties of trophy wives and their quiet struggle for freedom. Though somewhat famous, she doesn’t have much recognition in or outside India.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the famous African writer has drawn a mass population to the previously unknown African literature. While her work has been translated into more than 30 languages, she remains one of the first African female writers to promote feminism and iterate her life stories on a public sphere.

Other famous Asian and African Female Writers:

-  Jenny Han
-  Jessica Gao
-  Amy Tan
-  Laila Lalamani
-  Bessie Head
-  Sarojini Naidu